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Irish Canadians

The Irish have played an important role in the history of Canada. From their early settlements in Newfoundland, to the larger waves of migrations in the 19th century and the present, the Irish have been ever-present in the Canadian landscape. Irish Canadians have contributed to Canadian society and its economy, and the Irish-Canadian identity continues to be expressed and celebrated.

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André Nault

André Nault, Métis leader, farmer, and buffalo hunter (born 20 April 1830 in Point Douglas, Red River Colony [now Winnipeg, MB]; died 17 December 1924 in St Vital, MB). Although a kinsman of Louis Riel and always considered a Métis, Nault was not of mixed blood (his mother and father were French Canadian).

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George Chuvalo

George Chuvalo, CM, boxer (born 12 September 1937 in Toronto, ON). George Chuvalo is a three-time Canadian heavyweight champion boxer. He is perhaps best known for his full 15-round bout with world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali at Maple Leaf Gardens on 29 March 1966. Ali famously called Chuvalo “the toughest guy I ever fought.” Chuvalo posted a career record of 73-18-2, with 64 wins by knockout. He has also served as a prominent anti-drug advocate after losing two sons to drug overdoses and his wife and another son to suicide. A Member of the Order of Canada, Chuvalo has been inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the World Boxing Hall of Fame, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.

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Katherine Govier

Katherine Mary Govier, CM, writer, editor, administrator, teacher (born 4 July 1948 in Edmonton, AB). Katherine Govier has published 10 novels and three short-story collections, as well as two acclaimed collections of travel writing. A Member of the Order of Canada, she has received the Toronto Book Award and the Marian Engel Award. She has served on the boards of the Toronto Arts Council, the Canadian Council for Civil Liberties and the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing. She has also taught at Sheridan College, Ryerson University and York University.

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Dan Aykroyd

Daniel Edward Aykroyd, CM, OOnt, comedian, actor, screenwriter, musician, entrepreneur (born 1 July 1952 in Ottawa, ON). Dan Aykroyd is a comedian, writer and actor best known for his four seasons on Saturday Night Live (SNL) and for such hit comedies as The Blues Brothers (1980) and Ghostbusters (1984), both of which he cowrote. He won an Emmy Award for his writing on SNL and received an Oscar nomination for his supporting performance in Driving Miss Daisy (1989). He has also enjoyed considerable success as an entrepreneur, particularly in wine and spirits. He is a Member of the Order of Canada and Order of Ontario and has a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

timeline event

Conrad Black Pardoned by US President Donald Trump

President Trump signed a full pardon for Conrad Black, an author and former media mogul who was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice in 2007. He served just over three years in a Florida prison. In a statement, Black dismissed his conviction as “nonsense,” writing, “there was never a word of truth to any of it.” Black was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1990 and removed from the Order in 2014.

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Ed Bickert

Edward Isaac Bickert, CM, jazz guitarist (born 29 November 1932 in Hochfeld, MB; died 28 February 2019 in Toronto, ON). Ed Bickert was Canada’s best-known jazz guitarist. He developed a unique, understated style of considerable harmonic sophistication. Rooted in bebop, his intuitive, pianistic approach was characterized by lyrical and rhythmic ease, a deceptively complex simplicity and a generally muted tone. He is noted for his work with Ron Collier, Rob McConnell, Don Thompson and Moe Koffman. Bickert achieved international prominence through his work in the mid-1970s with American saxophonist Paul Desmond. A Member of the Order of Canada, Bickert won a Juno Award and multiple National Jazz Awards. He also played on dozens of Juno- and Grammy-nominated and award-winning recordings.

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Peter Mansbridge

Peter Mansbridge, OC, television news anchor, journalist, columnist (born 6 July 1948 in London, England). A widely respected journalist, Peter Mansbridge was the face of CBC News for nearly 30 years. As the chief correspondent and lead anchor of The National from 1988 to 2017, he won 12 Gemini Awards for broadcast excellence, including the Gordon Sinclair Award for best overall broadcast journalist in 1990 and 1998. His other honours include two Canadian Screen Awards as well as numerous honorary degrees and lifetime achievement awards. He has been inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

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Mr. Dressup

Mr. Dressup was one of Canada’s most beloved and longest-running children’s television series. The program ran for 29 years (1967–96) and more than 4,000 episodes. It starred Ernie Coombs as the jovial Mr. Dressup and was a precursor to the popular American series, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Mr. Dressup was influential in tailoring children’s programming towards developing the child’s emotional and logical intelligence. The series won three Gemini Awards and earned Coombs an appointment to the Order of Canada. A 2017 crowd-sourced online vote unofficially declared Mr. Dressup Canada’s most memorable television program. In 2019, Mr. Dressup was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.  

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Caroline Ouellette

Caroline Ouellette, OC, hockey player, softball player (born 25 May 1979 in Montreal, QC). Caroline Ouellette is one of only five athletes to win a gold medal at four consecutive Olympic Winter Games (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014). She also won six gold medals and six silver medals with Team Canada at the IIHF Women’s World Championship and four Clarkson Cup titles as the champion of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL). Ouellette was a formidable power forward early in her career and became an excellent playmaker. Upon retiring from women’s hockey in 2018, she ranked second all-time among Canadian women’s hockey players in assists (155) and third in points (242). She was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2019.

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Graeme Gibson

Graeme Gibson, CM, writer, cultural activist, teacher (born 9 August 1934 in London, ON; died 18 September 2019 in London, England). Graeme Gibson was a noted Canadian author and conservationist. His novels Five Legs (1969), Communion (1971), Perpetual Motion (1982) and Gentleman Death (1993) were widely acclaimed. He also published the environmentally conscious The Bedside Book of Birds (2005) and The Bedside Book of Beasts (2009). A committed bird watcher, he helped found the Pelee Island Bird Observatory. He was also instrumental in forming the Writers’ Union of Canada, the Book and Periodical Development Council and the Writers’ Trust of Canada. He was a former president of PEN Canada and the longtime partner of Margaret Atwood.

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Barney Hartman

Bernard Conrad Hartman, CM, skeet shooter, pilot (born 2 November 1916 in Swan River, MB; died 30 October 2016 in Ottawa, ON). Barney Hartman was considered the greatest skeet shooter in the world. He won a silver and four bronze medals in international amateur competition and was the Canadian amateur 12-gauge champion for seven consecutive years. He claimed nearly 30 world records in various categories and as a professional boasted the world’s best average in nine of 12 years. He once broke a string of 2,002 consecutive clay targets without a miss and had a career success rate above 99 per cent. A Member of the Order of Canada, he was inducted into numerous halls of fame, including Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Armed Forces Sports Hall of Fame and the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

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Stephen Harper

Stephen Joseph Harper, CCPCprime minister of Canada 2006–15, politician, author, economist (born 30 April 1959 in Toronto, ON). Stephen Harper is Canada’s longest-serving Conservative prime minister since Sir John A. Macdonald. He helped found the Reform Party and served as head of the National Citizens Coalition and leader of the Canadian Alliance Party. He then transformed the country’s political landscape by uniting the previously divided right into the Conservative Party of Canada. He led the CPC to three consecutive election wins before being defeated in 2015 and resigning as party leader. Harper’s adherence to a brand of ideologically-pure conservatism resulted in what the Globe and Mail called “Canada’s first ever truly Conservative government.” He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in December 2019.

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Derek Holman

Derek Holman, CM, composer, organist, choir conductor, professor (born 16 May 1931 in Illogan, England; died 20 May 2019 in Ottawa, ON). Derek Holman worked at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Croydon Parish Church and the Royal School of Church Music in the United Kingdom before moving to Canada in 1965. He was organist-choirmaster at Toronto’s Grace Church on-the-Hill, choirmaster at Bishop Strachan School and a professor at the University of Toronto. He was perhaps best known for his collaborations with Robertson Davies, including on the children’s opera Doctor Canon’s Cure (1982). Holman was an associate of the Canadian Music Centre and a member of the Canadian League of Composers. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Church Music in 1972 and a Member of the Order of Canada in 2002.

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John Humphrey

John Thomas Peters Humphrey, OC, lawyer, diplomat, scholar (born 30 April 1905 in Hampton, NB; died 14 Mar 1995 in Montreal, QC). John Humphrey was the director of the United Nations Human Rights Division from 1946 to 1966. He was instrumental in drafting the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. He also taught law and briefly served as dean at McGill University. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1974 and received the United Nations Prize for human rights advocacy in 1988.

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Mark Messier

Mark Douglas “Moose” Messier, hockey player (born 18 January 1961 in Edmonton, AB). A talented forward who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for 25 seasons, Mark Messier is considered one of the greatest hockey players of all time. He ranks near the top of many regular-season NHL records: third in points (1,887), eighth in goals (694), third in assists (1,193) and second in games played (1,756). He is also second all-time in playoff goals (109), playoff assists (186) and playoff points (295), and fourth overall in playoff games played (236). Famous for his leadership, he captained the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. He also won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player with the Oilers in 1990 and with the Rangers in 1992. Messier won six Stanley Cups and received the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1984. An Officer of the Order of Canada, he has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.

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Hayley Wickenheiser

Hayley Wickenheiser, OC, hockey player, softball player (born 12 August 1978 in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan). Hayley Wickenheiser won seven gold medals and six silver medals with Team Canada at the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship, as well as four gold medals and one silver medal at the Olympic Winter Games. She is the all-time leader in goals (18), assists (33) and points (51) in women’s ice hockey at the Olympic Winter Games. She is the all-time leader in assists (49) and points (86) at the Women’s World Hockey Championship. She was also the first woman ever to score a goal in a men’s professional league. Wickenheiser retired from competitive hockey in 2017, finishing with 379 points (168 goals and 211 assists) in 276 games with Team Canada. An Officer of the Order of Canada, she has won the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as the Canadian Press Female Athlete of the Year and been inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame.

timeline event

Death of Hockey Hall of Famer and Former Liberal MP Red Kelly

Red Kelly, the inaugural winner of the Norris Trophy and four-time winner of the Lady Byng Trophy, died at the age of 91. The versatile Kelly won four Stanley Cups as a defenceman with the Detroit Red Wings and another four as a centre with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He also served as a Liberal MP from 1962 to 1965 while still an active player. He is a Member of the Order of Canada and an inductee of the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame.